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DBED’s Invest Maryland Day back on

The Department of Business and Economic Development’s snowed-out Invest Maryland Day is back on. You’ll find the DBED folks drumming up support for the $100 million venture fund legislation on Feb. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon in the Miller Senate office building.

The bill, SB 180, is up for a hearing at 1 p.m. that day before the Senate Budget & Tax Committee. It’ll be the first chance for lawmakers to really dig into the proposal to sell tax credits to insurance companies to raise the venture capital intended for early stage, high-tech start-ups.

With a price tag of more than $100 million (the tax credits will be auctioned off at a discounted rate so they’ll have to sell more than $100 million worth of credits to raise $100 million) the size of the program may be hard for some lawmakers to support. Among the other work for the budget committee this year is Gov. Martin O’Malley’s plan to bridge a $1.6 billion budget deficit.

The General Assembly considered a similar idea last year, but it ultimately fizzled in the waning days of the session. Some lawmakers have said the changes made to the legislation by DBED — the bill would allow the state to recoup all of the principal and 80 percent of the profits from investments made with Invest Maryland money by private venture capital firms — have made the proposal more palatable this year.

And it has been at the top of the governor’s list of legislative proposals this year. DBED Secretary Christian Johansson has been lobbying lawmakers throughout the legislative session, working the crowd between the Senate and House chambers before and after their morning meetings.